While there are many tax deadlines during the year, “Tax Day” is the only one most people actually circle on their calendar. It’s the annual due date for filing your federal income tax return and paying any taxes you owe.
But there was a pleasant surprise for Tax Day 2023—it was a few days later than normal. So, everyone got some extra time to file taxes this year! (And if you were the victim of certain recent natural disasters, you might have even more time to file your federal tax return.)
This year’s exact date isn’t the only thing you need to know about Tax Day, though. For instance, do you know how you could have gotten more time to file? What’s the best way to file your taxes? Will the Internal Revenue Service slap you with a penalty if you miss the tax filing deadline? When are state income taxes due?
We’ll answer these questions and more so you can make sure you’re satisfying all the income tax return filing requirements—whether you already filed your return or you got an extension. Whenever it is for you, Tax Day can trigger a lot of anxiety—but it doesn’t have to. If you know what to expect, you can knock out your tax return without all the unnecessary stress.
Related: Federal Tax Brackets and Rates
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When Did Tax Season Begin?
Let’s start with some basic information about tax filing season—such as when it began.
The IRS kicked off this year’s tax season on Jan. 23, 2023. That’s the date the tax agency began accepting tax returns for the 2022 tax year (i.e., returns for income earned last year). The IRS expects more than 168 million individual tax returns to be filed this year, with the bulk of them submitted before Tax Day.
However, Jan. 23 isn’t the set date for the start of every tax season. The IRS has to wait until it’s ready before tax filing season can begin. Each year they need to update computer systems, incorporate any new tax laws into tax forms and publications, hire and train seasonal staff, and more. So, tax season typically starts sometime during the second half of January. (In 2022, the IRS started to accept and process tax returns on Jan. 24.)
Related: What’s the Standard Deduction?
When Were Taxes Due This Year?
If you ask Americans when federal taxes are due, the vast majority of them will say April 15. And, most of the time, they would be right. However, tax returns for the 2022 tax year were due April 18, 2023, for most taxpayers.
Related: Do You Have to File Taxes This Year?
Why April 18 Instead of April 15?
Why the April 18 tax deadline this year? The three extra days to file your taxes is compliments of the federal tax code. Under the law, any tax due date that falls on a weekend or holiday is shifted to the next day that isn’t a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday. According to the IRS, Washington, D.C., holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way as federal holidays.
April 15 falls on a Saturday this year, which would ordinarily push the due date to Monday, April 17. However, that’s a holiday in D.C. (Emancipation Day). That means the deadline to file your 2022 federal income tax return was moved back another day to April 18, 2023.
Tax Filing Deadline for Natural Disaster Victims
As part of an overall tax relief package, victims of certain natural disasters are usually given more time to file various federal tax returns. The extended tax deadlines only apply to people who live or have a business in a location declared a federal disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The new tax deadlines typically apply to all original filing due dates (and related tax payments) within a designated time period following the disaster. For people impacted by the following natural disasters, this includes the April 18, 2023, deadline for filing federal income tax returns (the extended tax filing deadline for these people is also noted):
- Alabama storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes that began on Jan. 12, 2023 (deadline extended to Oct. 16, 2023)
- Arkansas storms and tornadoes that began on March 31, 2023 (deadline extended to July 31, 2023)
- California winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides that began on Dec. 27, 2022 (deadline extended to Oct. 16, 2023)
- California winter storms, flooding, and mudslides that began on Jan. 8, 2023 (deadline extended to Oct. 16, 2023)
- California winter storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides and mudslides that began on Feb. 21, 2023 (deadline extended to Aug. 15, 2023)
- California winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides that began on March 9, 2023 (deadline extended to Oct. 16, 2023)
- Florida storms, tornadoes, and flooding that began on April 12, 2023 (deadline extended to Aug. 15, 2023)
- Georgia storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes that began on Jan. 12, 2023 (deadline extended to Oct. 16, 2023)
- Indiana storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes that began on March 31, 2023 (deadline extended to July 31, 2023)
- Mississippi storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes that began on March 24, 2023 (deadline extended to July 31, 2023)
- New York winter storm and snowstorm that began on Dec. 23, 2002 (deadline extended to May 15, 2023)
- Tennessee storms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes that began on March 31, 2023 (deadline extended to July 31, 2023)
Tax Extensions If You Couldn’t Meet the Deadline
If you weren’t able to meet the April 18 tax deadline, hopefully you got a tax extension that pushed this year’s federal tax filing deadline to Oct. 16, 2023. And you didn’t even need a good reason to get an extension—it was automatically granted to taxpayers requesting one by either:
- Filing Form 4868
- Sending an electronic tax payment to the IRS
However, you had to make a proper request for a tax extension no later than April 18, 2023.
It’s also extremely important to remember that these automatic tax extensions only pushed back the date for filing your tax return. They didn’t extend the deadline for paying taxes. So, if you expected to owe taxes this year, you had to estimate your 2022 tax liability and send that amount to the IRS by April 18, 2023.
How to File Your Tax Return
If you requested a filing extension, you still need to know how to file your federal income tax return. You can hire someone to prepare your return or you can do it yourself.
If you’re going to pay someone else to file your taxes, make sure that person is a qualified tax professional. The best way to do that is to hire a credentialed tax preparer, such as a CPA, enrolled agent, or tax attorney. Check out the IRS’s Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications for help finding a qualified preparer near you.
If you want to complete and file your tax return yourself, there are a few options to choose from. One option is to do it all on paper and send your return to the IRS through the regular mail. However, we strongly recommend that you don’t do this. Paper returns take more time on your end. It takes more time to deliver them. They can get lost much more easily. It takes the IRS much more time to process them. They’re more susceptible to fraud. Need I go on?
Instead, pick one of the many tax software products available, such as TurboTax or H&R Block. These products will walk you step-by-step through the tax return process and even help you file electronically. Tax software products can vary widely in terms of price, functionality, and features, but you can check out our list of the best tax software available this tax season if you need help choosing the right program for you.
Some people can even use certain tax software products for free through the IRS Free File program. You initially qualify for free software this year under the IRS Free File program if your 2022 adjusted gross income is $73,000 or less. However, note that each tax software provider participating in the IRS Free File program has its own set of eligibility requirements, which can be based on your age, your income, the complexity of your tax return, or other factors. Eligibility rules for each program participating in the IRS Free File program, along with a selection tool, are available on the IRS website.
Finally, if you don’t qualify for free tax software under the IRS Free File program, you can still use the free fillable forms on the IRS website. They are available to everyone, regardless of your income level. Be warned, however, that there’s no guidance provided with these forms, so you pretty much have to know what you’re doing if you select this option.
Congratulations if you’re getting a tax refund this year. If you still haven’t filed yet, but want to receive your refund faster—typically within 21 days—make sure you file electronically and choose direct deposit. Filing electronically allows the IRS to process your return more quickly, and direct deposit speeds up the delivery of your tax refund payment. You’ll have to give the IRS your bank account information if you request direct deposit, though.
Once you file your return, you can track the status of your tax refund using the IRS’s Where’s My Refund tool. To access the tool, you’ll need to provide your Social Security or taxpayer ID number, your filing status, and the exact tax refund amount reported on your return. You can also check the status of your refund on the IRS2Go mobile app.
And have you thought about what you’re going to do with your tax refund? How about saving or investing it! You can actually direct part of your tax refund into an individual retirement account (IRA), health savings account (HSA), Archer medical savings account, Coverdell education savings account, or TreasuryDirect account. You can also buy up to $5,000 of Series I savings bonds. Submit Form 8888 with your tax return to use your tax refund in any of these ways.
If you owe taxes this year, April 18, 2023, was also the due date for paying the IRS (even if you got a tax extension). There are several ways to pay taxes, including by:
- Money order
- Online IRS account
- Bank account transfer
- Debit Card, Credit Card, or Digital Wallet (e.g., PayPal)
- Tax software
- IRS2Go mobile app
- Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)
What If You Couldn’t Pay Taxes On Time?
There are a few options to consider if you couldn’t pay your income tax bill by the April 18 deadline. You can go on the IRS website and apply for a payment plan. You can also file Form 9465 to request an installment plan.
In some cases, the IRS will extend your payment deadline for up to six months. However, you have to show that paying the tax on time would create an “undue hardship.” Generally, that means you’ll have a substantial financial loss if you pay your tax when it’s due (e.g., forced to sell property at a significantly reduced price). Use Form 1127 to request a payment extension.
Related: Best Debit Cards for Teens
Penalties for Missing the Federal Tax Deadline
Be prepared to pay a price if you didn’t file your 2022 federal income tax return or pay any tax due by April 18, 2023. The penalty for filing your federal return late is 5% of any unpaid tax per month (up to 25% of the amount owed). Plus, the penalty for paying federal income taxes late is 0.5% of the unpaid amount per month (again, up to 25% of the amount due). Other penalties may also apply, and interest is charged for any unpaid taxes, too.
These penalties are subject to adjustment, though. For instance:
- If both penalties apply in the same month, the penalty for filing late is reduced by the amount of the penalty for paying late (e.g., instead of a 5% late-filing penalty, you would pay a 4.5% penalty for filing late and a 0.5% penalty for paying late).
- If your federal return is filed more than 60 days late, the minimum late filing penalty is the lesser of $450 (for returns required to be filed in 2023) or 100% of the tax owed.
- If you file your tax return on time and have an approved payment plan, the late payment penalty is reduced to 0.25% per month during the payment plan period.
- If you don’t pay your tax within 10 days of receiving a levy notice from the IRS, the late payment penalty jumps to 1% per month.
In some cases, the IRS can waive or lower a penalty. You generally must show that you acted in good faith and had “reasonable cause” for failing to file or pay on time (think fire in your home, natural disaster, serious illness, and the like). Interest can’t be waived or reduced unless the penalty is waived or reduced first.
Related: Best Kid Debit Cards
Other Federal Tax Deadlines on April 18
If you completed your 2022 federal income tax return before Tax Day, don’t automatically assume you were done with all tax obligations for this year’s tax season. There were other important tax deadlines on April 18, 2023, that could have applied to you.
Estimated Tax Payments
If you’re self-employed or don’t have taxes withheld from other sources of taxable income (e.g., interest, dividends, unemployment income, taxable Social Security benefits, traditional IRA distributions, and the like), you might have to pay estimated taxes periodically during the year. The first payment for the 2023 tax year was due April 18, 2023. Additional estimated tax payments for the 2023 tax year are due June 15, 2023, Sept. 15, 2023, and Jan. 16, 2024.
The first estimated tax payment that was due on April 18 was for income earned from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2023. However, estimated tax payments aren’t due until you have income upon which you must pay tax. As a result, for example, if you didn’t have any income from January to March that wasn’t subject to withholding, then you didn’t have to pay estimated taxes by April 18.
Household Employment Taxes
If you paid cash wages of $2,400 or more during the 2022 tax year to a household employee (e.g., a maid, nanny, cook, gardener, private nurse, etc.), you could have had a separate tax form to file and a tax bill to pay by April 18, 2023. That’s when Schedule H (Form 1040) had to be filed and related employment taxes had to be paid. You also had to file Schedule H by April 18 if you withheld federal income taxes in 2022 for any household employee or paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2021 or 2022 to all household employees.
If you file your federal income tax return by the April 18 tax due date, you could have attached Schedule H to your return. Otherwise, you had to file Schedule H and pay the related employment tax liability separately before the tax deadline.
Contributions to IRAs and HSAs
If you’re saving for retirement—we hope so if you’re not already retired—April 18, 2023, was also the deadline for contributing to an IRA or HSA for the 2022 tax year. Unless you requested a filing extension, April 18 was the last day to contribute to a solo 401(k) plan or simplified employee pension (SEP) plan, too.
In addition, if you put too much money in an IRA for 2022, April 18, 2023, was the last day to pull out the excess funds before incurring a penalty, unless you requested a tax extension.
Related: How to Use Your HSA for Retirement
State income tax returns for the 2022 tax year are typically due on April 18, 2023, too. But, of course, there are exceptions. For the 2023 tax filing season, the following deadlines apply for filing 2022 state income tax returns:
|Delaware||May 1, 2023|
|Hawaii||April 20, 2023|
|Iowa||May 1, 2023|
|Louisiana||May 15, 2023|
|New Mexico||May 1, 2023 (if e-filed)|
|Oklahoma||April 20, 2023 (if e-filed)|
|Virginia||May 1, 2023|
Local governments in some states might also require an income tax return.
On the other hand, Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming don’t impose state income taxes, so no returns are due in those states. In addition, New Hampshire only taxes interest and dividends over $2,400 ($4,800 for joint filers), while Washington state only taxes capital gains above $250,000, so most taxpayers in those states won’t have to file a state tax return. [Note: The New Hampshire tax on interest and dividends will be eliminated after 2024.]